The wait is finally over; baseball is back.
Pitchers and catchers are reporting to their major league ball clubs and college ball is just preparing for first pitch, or second pitch for those with double headers. For pokes’ fans, especially, it’s an exciting time of the year as this years’ ball club heads into the 2016 campaign with top 10 rankings across many preseason polls.
Unfortunately, the Pokes’ opener didn't go as planned as they dropped the first of four games this weekend in the Clay Gould Classic to UT-Arlington. Trey Cobb, the junior out of Broken Arrow got the nod in the opener and pitched well in his five innings of work. He allowed just one earned run (three total) on six hits while walking two and striking out five but was tabbed with the loss to open the season.
After retiring the first two batters of the game, Cobb allowed three straight singles and the Mavericks set the pace early with a 1-0 lead.
The third inning was the deciding factor in this one as the Mavericks capitalized on a error from pokes’ second baseman Jacob Chappell. Following the error, Cobb walked two and gave up two singles and the Mavericks plated a pair to take a 3-0 lead.
The pokes finally found the hit column in the fourth when Donnie Walton roped a one out single through the right side. A single from Garrett Benge and a walk from Dustin Williams then filled the bases for the Ryan Sluder. However, the preseason third-team All-American wasn’t able to capitalize and rolled one over for an inning ending double-play.
The pokes plated their first run of 2016 in the fifth inning off a balk from UT-Arlington right hander Joel Kuhnel. The run was set up by aggressive base running from Connor Costello who went first to third on a single from Jacob Chappell.
Tyler Buffet was called in for relief in the sixth and finished out the game for the pokes. He was magnificent, allowing just one hit in three innings of work and he kept Oklahoma State within striking distance.
The pokes made it a one run game in the seventh off of Corey Hassel’s sacrifice fly but were unable to tie the game. Donnie Walton grounded out to end the inning, stranding two on base.
The Mavericks appeared to breeze to their first victory of 2016 after retiring the first two pokes in the ninth. With two-outs and no one on Josh Holliday looked to the bench and brought in Colin Simpson, a freshman from Edmond, to pinch hit for Chappell with the game on the line. Simpson who is only 5’9" homered 10 times last year as a senior at Memorial High School. The freshman delivered with a triple to deep center and gave the Pokes life with two down.
Garrett McCain, however, was unable to extend the game after his hard hit ball up the middle was snagged by the Mavericks 6’4" closer who proceeded to calmly toss the ball to first to secure the victory.
The Pokes finished the game with seven hits, four of which came off the bat of Chappell and Walton The Cowboys left eight on base and struck out six times.
The Pokes continue play tomorrow as they participate in a double-header that will feature Stephen F. Austin in game one at 11 AM and UT-Arlington in game two at 2:30 PM. Then they will round out the series Sunday against Stephen F. Austin.